PharmD students place 1st in 2023-2024 Value of Industry Pharmacists (VIP) Case Competition

For the second year in a row, a team of UCSF PharmD students achieved the top spot in the Value of Industry Pharmacists (VIP) Case Competition, presented by the Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO) and the National Fellows Council (NFC).

UCSF’s student chapter of IPhO was selected from 66 pharmacy school teams across the nation in the annual professional development competition, which gives pharmacy students deeper knowledge––from the perspective of an industry pharmacist––of key functional areas required to bring a novel molecule to market.

Each team participating in the months-long event works toward creating a cohesive product development plan, along with a presentation showcasing the drug profile. By the end of the competition, student pharmacists understand the vital role pharmacists play in clinical development, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, and marketing.

The competition also fosters leadership development as the student pharmacists improve their analytical, project management, and written and oral presentation skills. At UCSF, the competition is conducted alongside a student elective course, taught by second-year PharmD students Kiana Hocutt and Amy Xiao with Leslie Carstensen Floren, PharmD, PhD, MA, as faculty advisor.

“Throughout the competition, we are able to form valuable connections with our industry mentors and develop skills critical for success in our future career paths,” said Kiana Hocutt, Class of ’25, a cocoordinator of the UCSF team. “The disease state for our mock drug candidate this year, obesity, presented distinct challenges, given the dynamic nature of the therapeutic area. We were able to navigate them while incorporating information from publications, clinical trial results, and product approvals as they were released to the public.”

"We are very thankful to our mentors, who so generously donated their time to provide feedback,” said Amy Xiao, Class of ’25, also a cocoordinator of the UCSF team. “I want to encourage students in the future to participate. It was incredibly rewarding to develop a feasible (theoretical) drug product and strategy, teach the competition elective, and provide constructive criticism while delving into how the clinical knowledge we learn here at UCSF can be implemented in drug development."

Winning team

First- and second-year PharmD students from the UCSF School of Pharmacy who participated in the competition and elective:

many headshots and names, all listed below.

Team Cocoordinators

  • Amy Xiao

  • Kiana Hocutt

Clinical Development

  • Kathryn LeMoine

  • Imad Din

  • Longan Su

  • Jenny Hu

  • Arnav Rastogi

Regulatory Affairs

  • Sharon Huang

  • Colleen Leung

  • Janny Zhang

Medical Affairs

  • Jennifer Nguyen

  • Maxim Johnson

  • Aneet Dhillon

  • Han Dinh

  • Wendy Xie


  • Zunaira Iftikhar

  • Keya Patel

  • Cindy Chang

  • Sammy Nguyen

Industry mentors



Ann Chen, PharmD

Gilead Sciences

Danh Huynh, PharmD

Gilead Sciences

Engie Salama, PharmD


Scott Bull, PharmD


Judy Wu, PharmD, MS


Sharon Sakai, PhD

Tempest Therapeutics

Eric Pinashin, PharmD


Iris Tam, PharmD


Michelle Bretschneider, PharmD

Myovant Sciences

Alan Chan, PharmD

EMD Serono

Kevin Kim, PharmD


Margrit Rosado, PharmD


Ryan Thaliffdeen, PharmD, RPh, MS

Gilead Sciences

Disease state mentors

Mentor Organization
Ayca Erkin-Çakmak, MD, MPH UCSF Pediatric Obesity Clinic
Andrew Folick, MD, PhD SFGH Endocrinology Clinic

Faculty advisor

Leslie Carstensen Floren, PharmD, PhD, MA


School of Pharmacy

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.